On today’s Reach Dan welcomes Meghan Kelly to the show to talk about Paid Search Marketing, or PPC. How can audiologists and ENTs take advantage of paid search to drive more opportunities to their practice? Meghan Kelly, Audigy Group’s Director of Media, explains how PPC can be both an effective AND affordable way to generate flow. Dan and Meghan also touch on Audigy Group’s PPC program and how it differs from other digital agency’s (hint: it’s built around the needs of audiologists and ENTs!)
Read the transcript:
DANIEL PARSCALE: On today’s show, Meghan Kelly walks us through the initial stages of setting up a PPC campaign. If you’re thinking about including PPC in your marketing strategy, you’ll learn about how to ask the smart questions to set you up for success. Good morning, Meghan. How are you?
MEGHAN KELLY: Good morning. I’m good, thanks.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Good. Thanks for joining us again on Reach. We are going to talk about PPC, which, well, want don’t you tell us a little bit about your involvement with PPC here at Audigy so we can get some.
MEGHAN KELLY: PPC stands for pay per click. And it’s essentially just in a nutshell, when someone does a search on, let’s say, Google, they’re searching for audiology, you will see search results. And pay per click of ensuring or hoping to ensure that when someone is searching for a hearing care related service that your business would show up as an option.
DANIEL PARSCALE: So with all that in mind, could you maybe tell me a little bit about the history of the PPC program here at Audigy? I know it’s kind of new. And you have an interesting back story on why you thought this would be an important program for us to offer.
MEGHAN KELLY: Yeah. I can, I would love to talk about that. So when I first started working at Audigy in 2008, I was hired as like a first media buyer. And all that I was purchasing, primarily what I was purchasing, was traditional media. So that would be like newspaper, radio, television, all stuff that’s like really important and viable to our membership.
But we didn’t have anyone on the media team who was skilled in managing our paid digital. So we were outsourcing that to a vendor. And we found this big national vendor.
And we were sending all of our member business to them. We were funneling it there and making that experience for the member a lot easier. We got some discounted rates because of that.
And we could get averages in terms of like our results and share that across the membership. There were some benefits to sending all the business there. But one of the big, big drawbacks was we didn’t have any transparency as to how our budgets were being spent. No one at the agency would share with us if a member was spending $1,000, how much of that $1,000 was actually being spent on search and how much of that was being pocketed as a fee.
We didn’t have any transparency into at the AdWords platform, where the campaigns were actually being run. They didn’t give us that transparency. They gave us a login into their proprietary platform, which was just really convoluted and did not match up to what you would have seen if you actually were looking in the platform, where the purchasing was actually made if you were actually looking in the AdWords platform. And a lot of our campaigns were not performing well.
And we would get poor results. And our results were in conflict with what the agency was reporting back to us. So when you are in a position, when you’re a company like Audigy and it is your job to be the best steward of a member’s marketing budget, but you don’t have the transparency into determining if one of your vendors is using that money wisely, you don’t feel good about making that recommendation. And it got to the point where I felt really bad about sending business here because I didn’t know if this was something that was working well.
And when it wasn’t working well, when I knew it wasn’t working well, I didn’t know how to fix it. There was nothing I could do to help it. So at that time we had had a man, his name was Eric Kammer. He had just been hired.
He was going to be a marketing manager. But he had come from a digital agency. And he was someone who was a great resource in terms of search and best practices. And this agency just was not following those best practices. So he and I came up with a plan to start to manage our members’ campaigns in-house.
And we started really small because we certainly didn’t want to mess this up. And we brought on three members. And we managed their campaigns. And we set goals for ourselves.
If we can get these results– we set a cost per call, cost per prospect, and cost per appointment goals– if we can get these results, then we know that we’re headed in the right direction and we could bring some more members onto the program. And that was in March of 2014 when we launched that beta with those three members. And then we slowly things were working well.
We added three more members. I think that over the next three months, results improved. The bigger our pool got, the more results that we had to share, the more data that we could use to make member campaigns work better. So we got to the point where we are right now, where we have I think we have 106 audiology based campaigns running for 106 private practices across the US.
DANIEL PARSCALE: And you provide the transparency and the ROI that you set as goals with each of these members. And so you’ve really solved that problem.
MEGHAN KELLY: Yeah. So the relationship that we have with our members, we succeed when they succeed, which is something that’s a little bit different than like any type of agency or like purchasing directly through a media rep. Those are sales-based positions. And I don’t want to bash that industry because that’s not what I’m trying to do.
But when you have a goal and you are working on like bringing in a certain amount of revenue, that can sometimes encourage overselling. It certainly doesn’t encourage you to go back to a client and say, hey, I know that you said you have a $2,000 budget, but we really only need $1,200 of that to be successful. And we do do that.
Sometimes we start a member’s campaign. And we’ll start it at $2,000 because we need a starting place. And we need to start to draw data from that market. And then we see, you know what, really the only available traffic here, the traffic that’s available here is closer to a cost of $1,200. And so we would actually recommend a budget decrease in some cases.
So what I like about our in-house program is it’s very honest in those ways. The interests are very, very aligned. And I feel good about what our team offers members in the way of an honest search strategy.
DANIEL PARSCALE: One of the questions that we like to include in all the shows is, why is this important? Why does this matter? And I think that sometimes, for me anyway, the confusion seems to mostly lie with, what’s the difference between PPC and, let’s say, your SEO campaign or how they overlap? So could you maybe just clarify for us why it’s important to have this in addition to these other digital services.
MEGHAN KELLY: Sure. So PPC is pay per click. And SEO is search engine optimization. And so those are two really important digital focuses. And they complement each other, but they aren’t the same thing.
So SEO is ensuring that when someone does a search that your website shows up. And you can’t guarantee any of that, but PPC is paying for your ad to show up as an option. And so, I guess I would say that PPC is important because the top Google search results are paid. And you can guarantee, you can almost guarantee, that you will show up as an option if you’re willing to invest in the paid.
Another big benefit of investing in the paid is you get a lot more data and analytics on what your consumers’ journey has been in terms of what they’ve been doing online that has brought them to you. And we can use that data and analytics in very thoughtful ways to ensure that we get more prospects delivered to our digital efforts, our digital campaigns. And we can also take that data and ensure that we use it for our marketing that isn’t happening online.
DANIEL PARSCALE: From the SEO side, where I work, we can use that same data too to get an idea of where there’s overlap in strategy or maybe an opportunity or even a hole in the strategy so you can really have more cohesive reach for your branding.
MEGHAN KELLY: Exactly.
DANIEL PARSCALE: So this is definitely one piece in that, one extra– what would you say– spoke in the wheel, I guess.
MEGHAN KELLY: Yep. Yeah.
DANIEL PARSCALE: OK. So with that as a little bit of background, let’s talk about maybe, well, today’s show, we want to really discuss what a PPC campaign looks like in the very beginning stages. So let’s start with day 1, you stretch your arms, you get out of bed, you’re going to start a PPC campaign, what’s the very first thing that you want to think about in terms of your future plans for your PPC?
MEGHAN KELLY: So in terms of goals, that’s a really easy conversation. And that’s what we do with any member who would be interested in PPC. The very first thing that we want to discuss is, what does success look like? If this thing works really, really well, if this investment works really, really well, what do those results look like? And is that something that we can agree on before we launch this campaign?
It’s something that’s really important to grant before you launch any campaign so there are no surprises, right, like you don’t want to work with someone, create this campaign. You as the owner and the agency that’s running the campaign is feeling like, yeah, this is going really well. This is working great.
And your client is like, well, this is awful. This is not what I expected at all. So step 1 is discussing, what does success look like? And that’s where my team can be incredibly helpful because they run over 100 campaigns for private practice audiologists. And so we can take a look at how these campaigns are performing and transfer those expectations and success and just tactics to someone who is just initiating a new campaign.
DANIEL PARSCALE: So what are some of the things that they would look for if they wanted to measure that success? I know that in conversations that we have on SEO side, it’s the initial thought is, I want to rank for every keyword under the sun in my field. And that of course, is a little bit more ambitious than anybody can promise to do. But like what’s a reasonable expectation that you should have when you’re setting those goals?
MEGHAN KELLY: Well, when you’re doing paid search advertising, you’re investing money, I mean, that’s the paid part. That stuff costs money. So you want to make sure that the return on your investment is something that makes sense.
So at Audigy, we use call tracking software that records all of our phone calls and then we use a third-party vendor to score those calls as, obviously like we have a total call volume, total prospects. A prospect is someone who called. And based upon the call scoring criteria, they’ve been labeled as someone who is a prospect to purchase hearing technology and then also appointments. So we want to make sure that our cost per call, cost per prospect, and cost per appointment are all figures that make sense for the practice.
DANIEL PARSCALE: So what kind of audiologists or ENTs should be considering PPC for their marketing strategy?
MEGHAN KELLY: I think everyone should consider PPC. I think that you’re going to get different results depending on the marketplace that you’re in. Some market places are really, really competitive. And we might find out like, hmm, our cost per appointment is just not where we want it to be. I will say that we hardly ever see that. But anyone who is looking to bring more patients into their practice is a viable PPC prospect.
DANIEL PARSCALE: So generating leads is, obviously, the first thing that comes to mind for me. There’s other things that we could use it for as well, such as just testing an idea to see if it’ll work.
MEGHAN KELLY: Totally. Yeah. Our creative team has in the past used paid search to test two creative concepts, where they run two creative concepts and they determine which concept, which direction they’re going to go based upon how their target, how people online engage with those two concepts, one, message does better. One message gets more engagement, get more clicks, so they decide that they’re going to develop creative based upon that message.
DANIEL PARSCALE: OK. So it can really just set the groundwork for the rest of your strategy with a greater guarantee that there will be interactions with it in the first place.
MEGHAN KELLY: Totally. You can use it for business intelligence. And it’s really quick, you can get those results really, really fast, and they’re super accurate. Rather than maybe in the past, you would have done a focus group. And you would have looked around your community for people who fit this very specific profile.
We don’t have to do that any longer. We can run a national campaign, target people really, really specifically, age, income, where they live, what kind of car they drive. We can get super, super granular if we want to and get those results in a day. So it’s a real efficient way of getting good data.
DANIEL PARSCALE: And maybe we could even talk about using this for branding, like maybe if it’s a brand new location, maybe you have a new location and you’re an existing brand or you’re a new brand altogether, you could use this for exposure, where SEO would require more time for you to gain that that organic foothold.
MEGHAN KELLY: Yeah. Yeah, you’re exactly right. So let’s say you’re a new business, you’re a new audiology practice, and you are looking to make yourself known in that marketplace. And you want to do it as efficiently and quickly as possible so you can start making some money because very important, right? So you can’t just launch a website and wait for traffic to show up.
That’s not a good strategy. Launching a website and adding some paid search to get some traffic to that website, analyzing that traffic and seeing how people engage with that website can help you to not only get that brand presence much, much quicker than you would have achieved had you not employed PPC, but it will get you the metrics that are necessary in order to determine what type of content you might want to add to your website as you continue to build it out and refresh it. Because everyone’s website should be something that’s this living, breathing thing that’s constantly changing. It’s not the static piece of information.
DANIEL PARSCALE: OK. So those are just a couple of the reasons that you might be using PPC as part of your strategy. You can go into that with all kinds of different expectations. But what would you say are some realistic ones that can be set?
MEGHAN KELLY: What we do here with our in-house team is we set a cost per call goal, a cost per prospect goal, a prospect is simply someone who has– we use a third-party vendor to review all of our phone calls. And we give them some criteria to score those calls based upon the caller’s propensity to purchase hearing aids. So a prospect is someone who has a high propensity to purchase.
And then cost per appointment, which is obviously someone who calls and says, yeah, book me for an appointment. And that’s scheduled right over the phone. So we set those goals.
What does that look like? What are some benchmark metrics that we can set for those three KPIs– cost per call, cost per prospect, and cost per appointment– that would make me feel good about this investment? Step 1. And if we can’t agree on that, then we can’t move forward.
DANIEL PARSCALE: So we obviously have our benchmarks across multiple different practices that are of different sizes, different locations, et cetera, et cetera. Is there anything that you could say is a benchmark, like obviously you’re not going to reach every single person that you want to with one campaign or one keyword on this. But what are some of the reasonable things that you should use to temper your expectations?
MEGHAN KELLY: So when someone says I want to rank for everything, I would respond to that by saying, you have to ensure that you have the full picture when you are setting that expectation that you want to rank for everything. And what I mean by that is let’s say you want to rank for you’re an ANT. And you want to rank for balloon sinuplasty in Reno, Nevada. And you take a look at one of the things that we have access to on the paid search side, on the paid search team is how many people historically in Reno, Nevada, have searched for that specific term.
And maybe we find out that three people over the last three months have searched for that term. So does it really matter? Do you want to focus and invest on that keyword? Does it really make sense?
Do we want to build out creative and do we want to focus there? Or do we want to focus on where the search volume actually is? Because obviously, the bigger the pool, the more opportunity there is to catch a fish.
DANIEL PARSCALE: OK. I’m following you, though, like you really want to make your goals based off of the situation you’re in, your needs. And then also like really refine those based off of the best chance that you’re going to have to see a good ROI from that is what you’re saying.
MEGHAN KELLY: What I meant to say is you want to fish in a stock pond. That’s what I meant to say.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Got it.
MEGHAN KELLY: That was a bad analogy.
DANIEL PARSCALE: I was trying to think of places to fish in Reno. And I was like, I don’t know if I know of any.
MEGHAN KELLY: But, yeah, I would assure that anyone who was looking to launch a PPC campaign was just looking at you don’t need to understand all the technical things. We get a lot of people– I shouldn’t say a lot of people– a handful of people that get concerned because they’re not ranking for a certain keyword. And my response to them would be, I guess all that they need to be concerned with is if they are getting the results.
That’s how I would measure. I wouldn’t measure– it’s not that I don’t want to explain the technical side. But in terms of campaign success, I would go back to, this is what we agreed that success looked like. Let’s make sure that we’re continuing to reach those benchmarks that we set for ourself and not get distracted by we’re not ranking for this.
DANIEL PARSCALE: So that’s another great reason to set those goals early on is so that when things don’t make sense, you can say at least it makes sense in the context of what my goals were or my expectations were. OK. So let’s move forward a little bit with this.
And you’re right, you don’t necessarily have to have all the technical understanding of this, especially if you’re working with someone who’s managing it for you, like us for instance, that’s what we do. So let’s say that you’re in a relationship with that, you’re an ENT, and you’re talking to us, for an example. What kinds of things should you be looking forward to in a conversation where you’re really setting that?
For instance, I’m thinking about, how do you figure out if you’re getting a good cost for this? What is your fee going to? What kind of terminology is going to be involved in that conversation? First time you’re touching base.
MEGHAN KELLY: So if I’m a private practice owner and I’m talking to someone who wants to run a paid search campaign for me, what are some questions that I want to ask? And how do I vet this relationship? The first thing, I guess, that I would ask would be success metrics.
Like how are you going to report success back to me? I’d want to make sure that makes sense to me. I would want to make sure that they’re going to report back to me in some type of like– a lot of agencies won’t go as far as to record and score the calls, that’s something that’s unique and really valuable, I would say, to our organization. But I would make sure that they were, at least, going to report back to me in terms of cost per call.
And then I would take a look at that and say, like, all right, are these connected calls? Are they calls that are duplicates included? Do I have transparency into the reporting platform where these calls are pulled from?
Or are they just going to come to me in some type of random report where I can’t check it against something, I guess? What else would I ask for? I would ask for, what percentage of the amount that I am paying them is actually going to be spent with a search engines? And what percentage is going to be kept for a management fee?
That’s an important question. If I don’t spend my entire budget, because remember that we can only buy as much traffic–
DANIEL PARSCALE: As being clicked on.
MEGHAN KELLY: Yeah. So you can’t always like spend your entire budget. So if I don’t spend my entire budget, what happens to that? Would it roll over? Like in our case that we roll it over to the next month. So what happens to budget if it goes unspent?
We actually on one other little pitch for our team is we would recommend a decreased budget if we’re not able to spend all of a member’s budget. A lot of agencies just like take that as they pocket that. So that’s kind of an important question to ask is, where does unused budget go and how am I made aware of that? I would ask is they’re a Google partner.
What is your partnership with Google? Google requires that all Google partners provide transparency to their clients on how their campaigns are being run, which just in a nutshell means that they can login to the AdWords platform and just see exactly how much is being spent. The AdWords platform is a little bit complicated, but just knowing that you have access to that just would give me a little bit of confidence that the campaign is being run correctly. And I can get in there and look at it or share it with someone who can look at it for me.
I would ask if you’re going to be sending, where’s the traffic go? When someone clicks on one of my ads, where do they go? So some agencies will send all the traffic right to the homepage of someone’s organic website. And I’ll tell you that that’s not a best practice.
Because if you’re searching for, let’s say you’re clicking on an ad about you’re looking to the ad copy says something about like, are you suffering from tinnitus? And you click on the ad and you go to this homepage of a website that says, it’s hearing focus but it says nothing about tinnitus. So that’s not a good user experience.
Are you suffering from tinnitus and then you wind up on this audiology website that speaks nothing to tinnitus? Wouldn’t it be a much better experience for the user if they clicked on an ad, the tinnitus ad, and they landed on a page that said, we have helped over 6,000 people treat tinnitus since 1999. And here here’s how we can help you, fill out this form for a complementary consultation.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Really optimizing the experience from viewing of the ad to the click and then the information that’s presented.
MEGHAN KELLY: Sure, yeah.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Because a homepage isn’t going to be optimized for everything. It’s not going to be the first thing that you see. It’s going to be more general.
MEGHAN KELLY: It’s the ideal place to send paid traffic in almost every circumstance.
DANIEL PARSCALE: OK. So this is a great insight to the initial thoughts on setting up your first PPC campaign. Could you maybe wrap it up into three tangible takeaways that people should remember from the show?
MEGHAN KELLY: I would say, number one is if you’re not doing paid search, you should look into it. And look into it by contacting our team. You can reach our entire team, it’s a distribution email, at email@example.com. That’s A-U-D-I-G-Y G-R-O-U-P dot com. Send an email, we’ll get back to you. We’ll give you some feedback on whatever it is that your question might be. So one is consider paid search if you’re an audiologist.
Number two, if you’re currently running a campaign or you’re thinking about running a campaign, make sure that you have a goals discussion with your agency upfront. Agree on those goals, it will save you a lot of headache down the road, I promise you, if everyone’s on the same page from the get-go. And three, I would say always use landing pages. In our experience, sending traffic to just an organic website is not a best case or a best practice. I would ensure that the agency that you work with is going to take the time to build custom landing pages for you because they convert better.
DANIEL PARSCALE: Great takeaways, Mega. Thank you again for being on the show with us. It’s always a pleasure to be able to talk with you.
MEGHAN KELLY: Oh, likewise. Thanks for having me. I had a lot of fun.